Uganda Opens Avenues of Growth For Indian SMEs

Over the years, Uganda has made a successful change from an agriculture-based to an industrialized economy. Since 1987, the Ugandan government has actively undertaken economic reforms to ease overall economic development.

As a consequence, Uganda has recorded an average economic growth rate of 6.5% per annum in the last decade.[1] Today, this country is ranked as one of the fastest growing nations in the African continent.

The economic policy changes initiated by the Ugandan government have played an important role in boosting production and export earnings. considerably, Uganda’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in 2008 was pegged at around 6.9%.

Uganda’s business-friendly ecosystem, diversified economy and openness to foreign direct investment (FDI) are making it a lucrative destination for Indian SMEs.

Trade relations

India is one of the most noticeable trade partners of Uganda. It exports coffee, tea, sugar, inorganic chemicals, automobile elements, sports goods, plastic and rubber to Uganda.

Alternatively, Uganda’s export basket for India comprises commodities like spices, cocoa, wood, wool, cotton, ceramic products, leather, copper, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances

In recent times, there has been a sharp rise in Indo-Ugandan joint ventures and trade collaborations. Notably, Indo-Uganda bilateral trade has increased from $112.06 million in 2006-07 to $168.76 million in 2007-08.[3] Riding on this stupendous growth witnessed in recent times, industry experts opine that Indo-Uganda bilateral trade will double in less than 5 years.

Areas of trade and investment

Given the high need for Indian products in Uganda, Indian SMEs can tap the business opportunities present in sectors such as textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, glass, paper, leather and food processing.

Indian SMEs can further make inroads into the Ugandan market by exploring the mining sector. Uganda has large unexplored deposits of minerals such as gold, tungsten, cobalt, iron ore and kaolin.

In addition, Indian SMEs in the hospitality and tourism sectors can cash in on the surging need for luxury resorts, serviced apartments and business hotels in Uganda and expand their operations in the African nation.

Considering that there is nearly 50% bed capacity deficit in the 3-5 star hotel categories in Uganda, Indian hoteliers can venture into this market to bridge the need supply gap.

Realizing the abundant scope of growth for both Indian and Ugandan SMEs, governments on both sides have agreed to ease increased cooperation between the SMEs in the two countries.

At a recently held India-Africa business summit in New Delhi, India has committed U$500 million for Ugandan projects from its Aid to Africa budget.

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